Archive for the ‘internet sociology’ category

Thank you, Sherlock Holmes!

February 13, 2010

Some new great search terms by which people have found my blog:

“dolphins eating plastic”

“livestock in iran”


“old chinese american men”

“what fish do turtles not eat”

“pic of a deer eating a person” (four separate searches for this)

I have also got a lot of visitors searching for various terms I used in my Xinjiang riots post: “uighurs,” “Kashgar,” etc., and, strangely, “Kashgar dentist,” “Kashgar dentiset,” and “Kashgar dentisti.” I just hope that these searchers are not actually in need of a dentist in Kashgar.

Someone got here searching for “interning at nichibei times.”

I was a little frightened to return to my blog after so much time away. I wrote a few things in the fall – one of which I have now posted and more of which are yet to come – but I just didn’t have the energy to edit and post them. As my numbers of viewers understandably declined further and further, I stopped checking.

So I was surprised to see that although the decline continued through November, the numbers experienced a seemingly random increase toward the end of December and especially through January. At first I thought maybe it was due to the simple fact that my blog has been around for more time to be clicked, leading Google to rank it higher. But I also noticed that, in addition to the wonderful search terms cited above, more people have been getting here via searches – on Google and elsewhere – for “Whack follol de rah,” both with and without the exclamation point at the end. 46 of the 78 searches for the phrase without the exclamation point have been in the past 30 days.  (My blog is the second result that comes up for the term on google, after an Irish translation forum.) Others have come here by searching “follol,” “whack follol de rah meaning,” “follol de rah,” “whack de la de rah,” and other variants.

It would have been strange, especially since I hadn’t been posting for so long, if people were searching for my blog by name. It seemed near impossible that that so many people would have thought to look up the phrase after hearing the song from which it comes, “The Rocky Road to Dublin” (as much as I would like to think that Irish music is taking over the world). When was the last time I heard Irish folk music in pop culture, I thought, and that song in particular?

The Dubliners, the group who does the best-known version of "The Rocky Road to Dublin." Adorable, no?

Then I realized that I must have Sherlock Holmes to thank. I was thrilled when I recognized the jaunty, fiery “Rocky Road to Dublin” in the background of the movie’s boxing scene, and I probably annoyed my friends by hopping up and down in my seat as the Dubliners vocally accompanied Holmes in taking out the other fighter. (This was not the only fight scene where they played Irish music, I am happy to say!)

Not sure what this has to do with the rocky road to Dublin, but that's ok...

It wasn’t a movie I felt I should like. Apparently, it has a lame plot, though this is less apparent if one never reads mysteries and gets closest to the genre by watching House.  But good old-fashioned swashbuckling, however inappropriate for the Holmes stories, as well as repartee, always appeals to me. I saw the movie twice, once in California, once in Oxford (two tickets for the price of one with my phone service here!), and appreciated it both times.

Then I appreciated it again when I realized it was bringing me blog visitors. I also noticed, while doing research for this post, that google’s fifth autocomplete result for “irish song” is “irish song in Sherlock Holmes.” This post is dedicated to those searching for that song, and those searching for “whack follol de rah,” so that their quest may not be in vain:

Whack follol de rah is a set of nonsense syllables, which are common in Irish music. A more flavorful version of “fa la la.” In The Boondock Saints, which I watched recently, when detective Greenly explains the deaths of two Russians, who he thinks were Irishmen celebrating St. Patrick’s Day: “So these guys are stumbling through the alley. ‘Too ra loo ra loo ra!’ This guy takes a blunt object, fuckin’ WAAH! Hits the guy with the bandages around his head,” he’s referring to another, much less fun and more recent song, “An Irish Lullaby.”

I picked “Whack follol de rah” as the name of my blog because, although it’s doesn’t literally mean anything, it expresses quirky, spicy joy in what I think of as super-verbal rather than sub-verbal fashion. In “The Rocky Road to Dublin,” a song about a nineteenth century man’s adventures as he travels from Tuam to Liverpool via Dublin, the nonsense syllables seem to burst out to express some sort of undefinable triumphant intensity of living.

And for the song itself, I can’t resist: Behold! The Orthodox Celts, Serbia‘s most famous Irish music group:

They’re actually quite good, aren’t they? The words are hard enough for native speakers. I particularly like the way he sings “bundle it was stole.” The Orthodox Celts have apparently inspired a younger generation of Serbian Irish groups, including Tir na n’Og and Irish Stew of Sindidun. I would almost say these groups are trying harder than the Irish to be Irish, but then again, Dubliners isn’t so subtle a name either.


The rest of my NAM pieces and other tidbits

August 25, 2009

Finally, I have time to post again. My last few weeks at NAM were busy, though lots of fun.

Here are the rest of my NAM stories from this summer. I definitely feel like I know more about how various organizations work. Yay!

A few other papers and senior-focused orgs have picked this one up.

Since my photos didn’t get used with my HSF story on the NAM site, here is one:

Healthy San Francisco Silver Avenue Clinic

Someone from CNN booking emailed me after reading my HSF story, asking for a pre-interview on skype. We skyped last Thursday, and she’s forwarding my contact info to the editorial and broadcasting teams (no guarantees that they’ll contact me, but they now have my info), and she told me to email her if I’m interesting in contributing writing/reporting for them!! (She thought I had an interesting perspective on health care as a college student..)

Healthy San Francisco Silver Avenue Clinic

I wish I liked taking photos more. It always feels so much more intrusive than reporting to me, or less respectful, even though I ask permission.

This story of mine broke before the Chronicle’s story about the Nichi Bei Times, first in the Nichi Bei Times itself and then on the NAM site, and a few other Asian American news sources picked it up. In fact, looking at the way the Chronicle structured their story and the information they included, I wonder whether they used my story for guidance.

I also got an email from the Asian American Journalists Association, for whose listserv I’m registered because I got a grant from them for my NAM internship, called “Save the Nichi Bei Times.” AAJA asked for members to support the new Nichi Bei Foundation and referenced my article. In other words, I got a general, anonymous blast that referenced my work! It was great seeing that someone was actually using my reporting to promote a cause. If my job is to be simply shifting information around, and maybe also digging up something from time to time if I’m lucky, it’s good to see that the shifting might matter.

Other NAM news:

Shane Bauer, one of the three hikers detained in Iran after accidentally crossing the Iran-Iraq border on July 31, is a freelance journalist who contributes to NAM. So the day the story of their detention broke, CNN and two or three other mainstream news organizations burst into NAM’s little, very-non-mainstream office to interview our director and others about the detention, and other media kept the phones ringing all week about the story. Iran has released little information about the status of the three since detaining them.

Random: someone recently found my blog by searching “What do dolphins eat.” Alas, poor searcher, my blog has given you only more questions, and no answers. Though I might suggest “fish” as an answer. This blog has also been the destination of the searches “what do ladybugs eat and drink” AND “what do deer eat.”

On another note, how did I manage to see 40 or so meteors the Wednesday before last and forget to wish on a single one?

More stats, a link, and a poem

July 7, 2009

Well, as intended, a post called “My sex statistics,” coupled with a very tempting first few lines to appear under the results for the tag “sex,” has attracted to my blog a few more wayfarin’ strangers searching the  tag “sex”. Only 4, this time, which, given the post’s tantalizing beginning, I can only attribute to the fact that the “sex” searchers are generally a small, regular group of people who have begun to learn that I cannot offer them what they seek.

Still, it seems now that something more complex than simple search results is drawing people to “My Sex Statistics.” 35 page views, my largest number so far, happened on the day I posted “My sex statistics,” with most views of that page in particular. Also for the first time people visited my “About” page. The increase in number of visitors was much larger than either chance or the four “sex”-searchers could account for. I guess it could just be a few visitors looking at many pages.

Apparently, one person also found my post by searching for “sex dreams.”

On an unrelated note, you can now read my first published NAM reporting piece (Note: I just collected the parents’ info and quotes. Someone else wrote it up; grammar and formatting is not mine.):

Also, a silly poem I wrote a few months ago, but which no one has seen and I just re-discovered on my computer:

The hem of my skirt touched the ground

and I winked at you just so, hoping that by quaintness

I could enchant your heart that beat to the rhythm of

hip hip, and I never thought to wonder why

rhythm has no vowels when

doom da dum dum dum

where would we be without vowels?

I shouldn’t have been wearing a long skirt in that club

anyway, and the way I was thinking chant came from enchant

I knew I had it all wrong.

But I can always hope.

My sex statistics

July 2, 2009

There are some things I’ve always wanted to try: outdoor rock-climbing – as opposed to the kind on the plastic walls above the mats, hang-gliding, skinny-dipping, chocolate covered crickets…


An internet search experiment. But I set up the beginning of this post – the part that would be quoted on the WordPress page where it displays all entries for a given tag – to fool the people who get to my page by searching for the tag “sex.”

As promised, the results of my WordPress search experiment:

Total page views of “Dirt makes everything more interesting” by people who searched the tag “sex”: 7

Total page views of “SF gay pride parade” by people who searched the tag “sex”: 5

Total page views of anything from by people who searched any other tag (still): 0. This includes tags like “news,” “writing,” and “books” – not exactly obscure topics with limited appeal.

However, all views of “Dirt makes everything more interesting” came from people who found it on the first page of the posts WordPress listed under the tag “sex” (the newest posts). “SF gay pride parade” had a more persisting appeal, with 3 views coming from page 1 of “sex” search results and 2 views coming from page 5. This gap (no views from “sex” pages 2-4) suggests to me that the time of day I published each post might have made a difference – this could also help explain the already probably insignificant differences in number of views between the two posts.

The real conclusion is that certain WordPress users are sex-obsessed. For those of you who yet again came to this blog because I tagged this post with “sex” – gotcha again, suckersss! Your views will become stats in my next post 🙂

A separate intriguing stat: 2 people have come to my blog from a Google search. For 1 of these, the term searched was “why dirt is so interesting.” Either this was someone who had already visited my blog and was trying to find it again – maybe an arrogant guess – or this is very interesting.

This is enjoyable in a way similar to looking at the searches Google suggests when you start to type in something. Just now, for example, I typed in “what do ” (with a space after do – no space yields different results) and got:

What do dreams mean? (A very good question!)

What do contractions feel like? (Important to know – or so I realized once I read it from a non-grammatical point of view.)

What do names mean? (Well, different things….)

What do my dreams mean? (I don’t know, Google, but I’m sure they’re interesting. Unless they’re bleak and technological.)

What do turtles eat?

What do ladybugs eat?

What do dolphins eat?

What do your dreams mean? (Mine?)

What do deer eat?

What do frogs eat? (Really??)

Another time I did “what do,” I got “What do Mormons believe?” among other things.

SF Gay Pride Parade

June 30, 2009

This was my first year going to the parade, though we missed most of the actual parade. Last year, I just went to the “Pink Party” the night before the parade. Both times, I’ve seen my share of naked men and strap on…fairy wings.

Technology-phobic as I am, I wish I’d brought my camera – which I have just rediscovered, since I needed to photograph the guy I interviewed last Friday for a story about his work employing at-risk youth at a recycling plant.

I wish I’d got a photo of the naked guy painted completely – completely – blue and wearing an large feather headdress. Chelsea, who interviewed him for her radio broadcast, said he called himself an “Apache.”

I also wish I’d got a picture of the older man covered in naked Barbie dolls, along with a large, erect, wooden phallus that thrust between the hapless dolls strapped to his belt. I wondered whether this was the same man who my mom knew in her San Francisco General Hospital days – the one who swallowed Barbie doll heads, and, since he was frugal, would boil them after pooping them out, so as to sanitize them, before swallowing them again. Chelsea interviewed this man as well – I believe he called himself the “Objectifyer.”

The weather was ideal for wearing nothing, or close to nothing – about as warm as it ever gets in San Francisco.

Chelsea also interviewed an Human Rights Campaign volunteer, who complained that she wasn’t getting many people to support an anti-hate crime bill. Most older people there, she said, had signed up with the HRC in the nineties, but now the younger ones couldn’t be bothered. I wondered whether there was another reason she wasn’t having much luck, as an HRC volunteer in particular.

Last year, I’d been planning on going to the parade (I don’t remember why I couldn’t), and I’d signed up to do voter registration with the HRC. I figured there was no way Prop 8 could pass (back then, despite Schwarzenegger, I mostly believed that my state had some common sense), but I wanted to help make sure. Then, the day before the parade, I read in the paper: “LGBT groups protesting the Human Rights Campaign.” It turned out that the HRC had recently promoted a bill that would give equal workplace rights to L’s, G’s, and B’s, but not T’s. Their rationale: something was better than nothing. Not in the eyes of transsexuals and most others in the LGBT community.

For fear of being spat upon, I decided not to volunteer with HRC. This year, I felt a little guilty about not volunteering again.

I asked the volunteer if the whole affair had blown over yet. She gave a very long spiel about how they realize they made a really, really bad mistake, and they have apologized profusely, and they want to make it absolutely clear that this new bill they are promoting includes rights for everyone. Then she asked us for donations, and I assuaged my guilt and also felt a little glad that I wasn’t volunteering this year, either.

I did see this guy, or one much like him

I did see this fellow, or one much like him

Anyway, as all the headlines have declared, everyone seemed to want to celebrate extra hard in the face of the Defense of Marriage Act, no fix to Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell, etc.

P.S. If you are seeking to attract quantity but not quality readers to your blog, tag every post with “sex.” I got seven hits in the first hour after I published my last post, all from people searching “sex.” I’d never got hits from a tag before. Will people have learned their lesson? And/or will the title “SF Gay Pride Parade” be less intriguing than “Dirt makes everything more interesting” to those who search for “sex” on WordPress? (Likely.) Find out in my next post!